Mixing plain and polite speech

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Introduction

Most of the time, you will be using polite speech for elder/higher people. However, even when you’re speaking in polite speech, it is customary to introduce some phrases in plain speech. Speaking every phrase in polite speech may sound too stiff for some situations, so that’s why it is actually very important to learn to mix both polite and plain in order for your Japanese to sound more natural.

Mixin’ them

First of all, let’s suppose you’re talking to an elder with whom you have a pretty close relationship and you aren’t in any particularly formal situation.

In this case, it is normal to use plain speech when you are using interjections for showing your feelings (and like talking to yourself). Some of these are:

やった!

よかった!Yokatta

すごい!

よし!

なるほど。

かな

どうしたの?

That is the most important. Other than that, you must just listen to your heart and…be careful! Don’t forget that it’s always better to be too polite than too rude.

Example

Take a look at this:

やった!今日、本をもらいましたよ。すごい!今度一緒に読みましょう。

This would be acceptable for about 70% of elder Japanese people.

Forum threads on this matter

Mixing polite and plain…politely.

Mixing plain and polite speech

--tanuki

(Fellow contributors, please look at the discussion page)

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